Reflection on Mark 6.53-56

They begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Most of us know people who can recount the time they found themselves in the presence of someone famous, someone others would easily recognize. Those famous people might be high-achieving sports personalities, well-known actors from stage or screen, pop stars or royalty. Whoever and whatever those famous people may be, those who were in their presence seem to assume a mysterious added dimension because they spent a few fleeting seconds in the presence of one or more of their heroes. But, worldly fame is a fickle commodity. As fame fades so does the powerful effect of that special memory. As truths emerge about those we idolise, their ‘specialness’ diminishes and our moment in their presence becomes nothing more than a vaguely amusing anecdote.

In today’s reading we are told of a moment when crowds rushed to be in the presence of Jesus. They did not feel the need to speak with him, they just wanted to be alongside him. Whether he was in villages or cities or farms, the crowds brought their sick and laid them before him. The crowds swarmed around Jesus because of his fame, and because they knew that spending a moment in his presence would be life-changing. 

Jesus brought healing and wholeness into this damaged and divided world. The ‘specialness’ of being in Jesus’ presence was not something that would fade, it would be there for ever. As the leper was cleansed, the mobility of the disabled was restored, as sight and hearing were renewed, and as demons were exorcised, lives were really changed in a way that none would ever forget.

Jesus is now reigning alongside his Father in heaven but, through the divine grace, mercy and love of God, he is still in our midst. We are being invited to recognise that presence. We are being called to join those who gather around their Lord and Saviour in praise and rejoicing. We are being called to lay our cares and concerns at Jesus’ feet, trusting in his unique ability to heal and make whole. Let us pray that, as we are confronted with the challenges of life, we might stretch out our hands and touch the fringe of his cloak, certain in the knowledge that healing and peace come from him alone.